by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Real deal
- The rifle
- The stock
- Size and weight
- Good feeling
It’s here! The Diana K98 air rifle is finally here and today I start testing it for you. I have fired it several times as of this moment, and my advice is if you want one, get it. Diana appears to have done everything right.
Luckily for all of you I am a real airgunner, rather than some marketeer who is just doing this as a job. When it comes to looking at a new airgun like this, I know what to look for. For example, the stock is real wood! The picture on the box looks so good that I thought for a moment Diana had gone the plastic route like the Mosin Nagant BB gun I recently tested. No, sir! This one is all wood!
I received the .22 caliber rifle and, yes, it does come in .177 as well. I thought given the power they claim (1150 f.p.s. in .177 and 850 in .22) that the larger caliber was the better choice. Normally I would give you the serial number of the rifle I am testing so you could hope to buy it after I’m finished, but I’m going to hold off on that for awhile with this one. I have a gut feeling I’m really going to like this airgun.
Obviously this isn’t a bolt action rifle like the Mauser K98 firearm. This one is an underlever with a sliding compression chamber that several other Diana rifles share. We know from experience that Diana has mastered this style of spring-piston powerplant. However, this K98 is unique. I am guessing that the powerplant was borrowed from the Diana 460 Magnum , but the underlever on the K98 is concealed as part of the Mauser firearm design. Instead of a cleaning rod section sticking out from the front of the long stock, what you see is the end of the underlever. It isn’t quite as long as the 460 underlever, but the cocking effort has still been greatly reduced. I will measure it for you in Part 2, but I would estimate that it’s at least 10 pounds less than the 47 pounds I measured when I tested the 460 Magnum.
Please remember, I am only guessing about this relationship. I base my guess on the fact that a manufacturer will use existing parts for a new model if they work, rather than going to the expense of creating all-new parts. That saves development cost plus it keeps the parts inventory lean. It’s why carmakers put one engine into many different models. Regardless of what parts are in the rifle, it is easy to cock, compared to the more powerful 460 Magnum.
The sliding compression chamber has a safety to keep the chamber from closing unexpectedly when you load the rifle. This safety is conveniently located for a right-handed shooter and I believe not as convenient for a lefty. When the rifle is cocked the safety slides back with the compression chamber and must be pressed to return the underlever and to slide the compression chamber home. Loading is directly into the breech, and on this rifle there is a hole in the spring tube below the barrel, so don’t drop the pellet.
The release for the sliding compression chamber is that button on the right side of the receiver, ahead of the closed chamber. Note that the Mauser banner is displayed proudly on top of the spring tube.
As noted, the stock is real wood, including the short upper handguard. On the Mauser K98 firearm the upper handguard keeps your hands away from the hot barrel when firing rapidly, but on this airgun it’s just for style. Also for style is the metal bushing in the butt of the stock. On the firearm that bushing is steel and is there for disassembling the bolt in the field. On the airgun it’s just for decoration and it’s made of non-ferrous metal. The last thing to note on the stock is the metal buttplate that very much resembles a Mauser K98 buttplate. This one is non-ferrous — probably to save weight.
As you can see, the stock is cut for the sling. The front barrel band has a heavy bar for the front part of the sling, just like the firearm. In fact, the most notable thing that’s not on this air rifle is a bayonet lug. It would get in the way of the underlever, anyhow!
I think the finish is exactly what airgunners want. The wood is finished with a semi-gloss finish that’s close to a military oil finish. The metal parts are deeply blued or blacked appropriately. You don’t blue aluminum, so those non-ferrous parts are probably anodized, but they all appear uniform. The only plastic part I can find is the triggerguard. Even the trigger blade is metal.
THANK YOU, DIANA! There are no fiberoptics on these sights! I might just buy the gun for that reason, alone! The front sight is a Vee on a wide base. And it adjusts for elevation! Yes, just use the special tool that comes with the rifle to turn the front sight one complete turn to change its height by 1 mm.
The rear sight is a fully adjustable leaf sight with a squared notch. It isn’t a copy of the Mauser K98 firearm rear leaf sight, but it’s located in the same place and it will work fine. I plan on testing the rifle thoroughly with the open sights.
There is a Diana scope base on the rear of the spring tube and I will mount a scope and test it that way for you, as well. But I will not leave a scope on this rifle. This is a rifleman’s rifle that was never intended to be shot with a scope. Yes, I know all about the 98K sniper rifles. If you examine them you will see that many compromises had to be made to mount scopes. But I will test this rifle with a scope for you — I promise.
Size and weight
This is a very large and heavy air rifle, as it needs to be to copy the Mauser K98 firearm. It weighs 9.5 lbs. which is slightly more than the firearm weighs, and there will be small variations for the density of the wood. It is 44 inches long, which is 0.3-inches longer than the firearm. So, this airgun is one close copy! This one happens to be quite muzzle heavy which I prefer for the stability it gives.
Yes, the K98 comes with a complete set of tools! You’ll need them to adjust the front sight and the trigger. What the big wrench is for I haven’t figured out yet.
Whoever wrote the manual was a shooter — or they knew one! It’s well-written in 4 languages. And — (drum roll) — it is unique to this air rifle, alone! No cheezy photos and instructions for a trigger you may or may not have on your one-size-fits-all air rifle!
I have a real good feeling about this air rifle. A good feeling as in — Diana made it right in every way. I once called the Diana RWS 350 Magnum a rifleman’s air rifle, but if this K98 tests out the way I think it will, the 350 will have to move over!
Kids — we are going to have fun with this one!